‘Continue to look at options’ —H-W board directs supt. to continue research

By Marcie Klomp

No talk of closing outlying centers took place at the school board meeting on Feb. 26. The motion that carried by all five board members was “Regarding our physical plants, motion to continue researching and looking for options that promote our District’s Vision and Mission.”

At the Jan. 28 school board meeting held at Lime Springs-Chester Elementary Supt. John Carver gave a report on the Physical Plant Assessment done by SVPA Architects Inc. He asked for guidance from the board on how to move forward. The options he presented included:

1) Keeping all campuses open and making necessary repairs;

2) Consolidate Elma Elementary into Lime Springs-Chester Elementary or vice versa;

3) Consolidate all campuses to Cresco; and

4) Consolidate Elma Elementary and Lime Springs-Chester Elementary into a new facility at a location yet to be determined.

Director Scott Fortune said, “We need to look at other alternatives, and we need to see if our campuses can cross over. We need to change the processes and learning environment. We need to be challenged to find that out . . . I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t look in other directions.”

Director Jim Kitchen added, “I don’t think anybody has a desire to stay as we are. We have to look at doing something different . . . We’re looking to be a school that wants to grow and go. We’re not here to maintain.”

In their action on Tuesday night, the board urged Carver to continue looking at options.

Kitchen looked into the audience, “We have your attention. Now we need your support.”

In other business from the meeting the board accepted resignations from Judy Twetten (T.A.G.) and Sally Godwin (Librarian), both of whom are retiring at the end of the school year.

• Fortune asked to have a more detailed breakdown of bills in the future. He said purchasing local was good, but not if it was out of line of purchasing wholesale.

• Kitchen asked about open enrollment. “Isn’t the principals’ job to find out why they are going out [of the district]?”

Carver answered, “There are a myriad of reasons people open enroll out. It has not been past practice to have principals check into that, but it can be.” No further action was taken.

Later, the superintendent gave some good news about enrollment. He passed out a sheet that gave a tentative outlook on enrollment from the next school year to 2020. Estimated enrollment for 2013-14 is 1,232. For 2019-2020 it is estimated at 1,288, an increase of 50 students.

• Each principal and the superintendent gave their monthly reports.

Much of Shirley Sovereign’s report was turned over to fourth and fifth grade teachers. See accompanying story.

Sovereign did update the board on Cresco Elementary’s SINA (School In Need of Assistance) designation. She explained to comply with state requirements, the school is offering a tutoring program after school for 22 students. There will be 30 sessions altogether.

She went on to say, “It is hard to find high quality opportunities, and we have a hard time finding help on literacy [in regards to SINA].”

An informative national conference on this is being held in San Antonio, Texas on April 19-22. “We are thinking of taking a group of four teachers to the conference. We have not found this type of learning locally.” She added, if H-W wants to be a destination school, the teachers need to learn from the best. They will bring back what they have learned and share with the others.

Todd Knobloch spoke about eighth grade job shadowing and what a positive experience it is on the students. “The eighth graders were challenged to find an employer to spend seven hours with on-the-job in a field they are interested in. Some have been challenged in finding a place to job shadow in the area they are interested.”

By job shadowing, students learn what skills and higher education are needed in a career they may choose to pursue.

He added he was asked to chauffer honor band students to Decorah.

Tim Felderman gave his presentation on Project Lead The Way. See accompanying story.

Carver noted FFA ran into a few difficulties with the government when the group tried to invest money in Lime Springs Beef. He said Rep. Josh Byrnes was trying to pass a bill to allow students to invest in entrepreneurial start-up businesses.

He was happy to say Dean Watson of UNI was going to spend Friday, March 8 at H-W. “He heard of the things that are going on here. UNI wants to revamp its teacher education program and is looking at us.”

Director Doug Berg, along with Felderman and others will look at what direction to take for the 1:1 initiative for the high school for 2013-14.

Carver said the district is evolving, but it cannot evolve in isolation. He said it takes board members and everyone.

• The first draft of the employee handbook was reviewed.

• A student had come before the board last fall asking about exploring the possibility of having soccer as a school-sponsored sport.

Jim Obermann, athletic director, told the board he felt starting a soccer program at H-W would be expensive to begin, scheduling games would be a challenge, and it is held during the same seasons as girls and boys golf, girls and boys track, softball and baseball. He finished by saying, “I don’t think it is a good decision at this time.”

Kitchen asked if Obermann had asked other people and students their opinion.

Fortune asked, “Why didn’t the student come to you?” Obermann said he didn’t know. Fortune then asked “Why didn’t you go to the student? I’m disappointed with this. I think you are short-sighted. What percentage of students are in boys and girls track? Obermann thought and said about 25 percent.

Fortune continued, “Why don’t you get more students involved?”

Obermann answered, “I’m not trying to prevent kids from being involved in things. I’d like to see them involved in things we have now. I’m looking at it from a feasibility direction.”

Fortune thought the athletic director should have talked to students. “I would suggest you start it as an intermural sport. It would be nice for you to come and talk with facts because this is [your] opinion.”

Obermann noted, that nobody had directed him to look into anything. He heard about the soccer prospect after the meeting. If the board wanted him to look into it deeper he would.

Carver stepped in saying, “It would be something to see who would be interested. We need find some more detail.” He gave Obermann credit for attending most if not all sporting events at the junior high and high school level.

The youth soccer program, which is parent-run was mentioned. Kitchen stated, “My [son] went, and it was a positive experience. We’re [the board] really impressed with kids coming here. I want to nurture those kids.”

The athletic director said, “I would have directed those kids to seek me out.” Fortune commented, “You are waiting for it to fall in your lap.”

Berg looked at Obermann, telling him he appreciated the time he took to write up his proposal.

• Obermann asked for permission to use a school vehicle so coaches could attend the national High School Athletic Coaches Association’s conference. It was approved, along with the district paying the $100 registration fee for each coach.

• Some of the parking lot items, such as the server for the security system and renaming the district’s learning centers, will be addressed as Carver looks into options regarding the physical plants.

A demonstration of Edmodo and ooVoo will be given at the next board meeting.

The board will continue to look at celebrating students’ global experiences and recognize volunteers.

The board went into closed session for the superintendent’s evaluation and negotiations with the teacher’s union.


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